Staying Guarded: A Lesson in Self-Preservation

by January 31, 2013 01/31/13

As much as we’d like to imagine we live in a world filled only with nice, thoughtful people, there are often reminders that creepers lurk almost everywhere. It’s also nice to think we could wear whatever clothes, shoes or jewelry we want and be left alone, but that’s just not a realistic thought either.

SuperTarget

I’d like to share with you something that happened to me one night about two weeks ago as I was getting ready to go out of town. I ran to Target to pick up some last minute travel items thinking I could be in and out in a few minutes, then get back home to pack.

Purposeful Observations

When I got to Target I noticed the parking lot looked a bit odd. I frequent this store quite a bit at random times of the day and evening, but something seemed out of the norm as I parked. I realized that there were at least three cars parked far out in the parking lot, facing the main front entrance with engines running and their lights on. Almost as quickly as the observation struck me as odd, I dismissed it thinking that these were just drivers waiting for a friend or family member to run in and pick something up, before swinging by the entrance to get them. It was, after all, a Saturday night at about 6:30 p.m. so lots of people were out and about. Right?

Now let me tell you what I was wearing. The only reason I point this out is because I think my outfit, no matter how common or unobtrusive I originally thought it was, helped me to become a target. It was cold outside so I was bundled up in a black pea coat with silver buttons, a green scarf around my neck, jeans and sequined Ugg boots. My small purse was slung across my body and my hair was pulled up in a pony tail. I was actively observing who was around me as I walked in, but once I was inside Target I relaxed a little. I grabbed a shopping cart and moved quickly to grab the items on my list.

My first stop was the vitamin area. As I was hunting along the aisles for the right one to turn down, a middle-aged Caucasian woman came up beside me. She complimented me on my boots as she appeared to coincidentally walk next to me. I smiled, kind of laughed and said thank you. She made another comment about “how cute and stylish” my sparkly boots were. At that point I told her where she could find them in case she wanted her own pair.

I turned into the aisle I needed, thinking our conversation was over and walked around to the front of my cart. She stayed out in the main aisle, just at the end of the one I had turned down and stood at the opposite end of my cart as she kept talking. She transitioned the conversation by beginning with another compliment, “I’m always looking for professional, well-dressed people when I’m in public because I run my own business. What do you do?” I began to sense the shift in conversation at this point and made sure to lose my smile and friendly disposition. I slowly told her that my husband and I had our own business, she asked doing what, as I even more slowly said it was an online business and didn’t offer much more detail. “Oh,” she stuck out her hand and smiled as if she had been rude and not introduced herself earlier, “My name is _____. What’s your name?” “Kelly,” I said as I stuck my hand out a very minimal distance causing her to reach in further over the front of my cart. I stepped back and gripped the end of my cart with the hand she just shook, making sure not to smile as she said, “Nice to meet you, Kelly.”

By this point she could tell that I was extremely uncomfortable and I wasn’t in the mood for whatever she was selling. I had begun to take another step backwards from her when she said, “Well, I won’t bother you anymore. Have a nice evening.” I’m not sure if I even said, “You, too.” Or if I just kept the cold look on my face.

I didn’t hear what she said her name was either. When she went from paying me a compliment to digging for information, I began trying to absorb details about her like the color of her hair, what her necklace looked like, the color and style of her jacket, trying to figure out how tall she was and what age bracket she fell into. Call it paranoia, but I felt pretty confident as soon as she switched gears that she wasn’t ever truly interested in paying me a compliment on my attire.

As I turned around I noticed a family had been on the aisle with me and I made eye contact with the husband. We both looked at each other as if to acknowledge that my encounter was an awkward one and I moved along to get what I came in for. I kept looking for that lady as I continued through the store, but I didn’t see her again. I had just begun to relax as I entered the checkout line and put my things on the conveyor belt.

I noticed there was one woman ahead of me paying for her stuff, but no one else other than the cashier was in our lane. Suddenly, a very tall older Caucasian man comes up behind me and leans in to ask me a question. As he began talking, he simultaneously reached into the refrigerated box that holds drinks you can buy, to grab a drink in a green bottle. He had nothing else in his hands, so I knew he had no intention of coming through the checkout line before he honed in on me. I felt that his grabbing the drink was an attempt at making his approach more legitimate.

“Excuse me, you’re a sharply dressed, intelligent person and I was wondering if I could ask you something.” I said “OK” and kept putting my stuff on the conveyor belt. “I own my own business and I’m looking for people like you, about 25 years old and up, intelligent with a professional appearance who may be looking for a job. You see, I run my own financial services business so I’m always on the lookout for people who might be a good fit. Do you know anyone like that who might be interested.”

I moved up to the front of the line in front of the cashier and told this very tall, older fellow with salt and pepper hair and a bright neon yellowish green vest on, “No.” I made sure to make eye contact with him and communicated through my body language and facial expression that I thought he was out of line and needed to leave me alone. “Well, you can’t blame me for asking!” he laughed. I didn’t respond.

The man stayed in the line behind me and purchased his drink. After I paid for my stuff, I pushed my cart close to the entrance, but waited a minute before leaving the store so I could have my keys and shopping bags in hand and also see where this man was headed. He very casually walked along the front of the store observing the people around him as he sipped on his drink in the green bottle. I walked out of the store and straight to my car. As I backed out of my parking spot I could see him coming out the front entrance, still watching people as he swiveled his head back and forth over and over. I didn’t want him to see my car so I turned in the opposite direction and left the parking lot.

Regretfully, I didn’t stick around to see if he met up with the lady, approached someone else or if one of those cars facing the entrance was waiting for him. I immediately got on the phone and called the store’s manager on duty. I described the two people who had approached me and tried to recall as many details as I could about their appearance and the script they both seemed to be following. I told her the lane number of the check out line I had been in and the time my transaction took place according to my receipt. I really wanted her and whatever security system was in place to be able to determine who those people were and to see if they had been bothering anyone else. The manager seemed concerned, and it seemed like she was taking notes as I talked. I let her know that I was a regular customer and had never felt so uncomfortable and unsafe in Target as I had that night.

Both of those people had chosen to say very similar things to me; they both commented on my appearance and mentioned they ran their own businesses. Why?

Noticeable Signs

Shortly after that I called Bryan and told him that I had been solicited by two different people who seemed to have the same agenda. I had been shaken up by the two encounters, but I wondered if it was mainly because of my inability to truly know what those people were up to. He immediately reminded me of the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker and told me that what had just happened wasn’t random, but seemed to have been planned. My feelings of discomfort magnified when he reminded me of “Pre-Incident Indicators” that de Becker talks about in his book.

Before Bryan said that, I had the feeling those people at the store were trying to scam me, but was less concerned with the idea of kidnapping or something violent taking place. I have a way of thinking the worst in most situations, so I really didn’t want to believe that the man and women really intended to harm me. Until Bryan reminded me of Gavin de Becker.

De Becker is a renown author and consultant to citizens as well as the United States government with regard to the evaluation of threats and the prediction of violence. His book lists seven pre-incident indicators (PINS) to violence.

Pre-Incident Indicators (PINS)

  • Forced Teaming. This is when a person tries to pretend that he has something in common with a person and that they are in the same predicament when that isn’t really true.
  • Charm and Niceness. This is being polite and friendly to a person in order to manipulate him or her.
  • Too Many Details. If a person is lying they will add excessive details to make themselves sound more credible.
  • Typecasting. An insult to get a person who would otherwise ignore one to talk to one. For example: “Oh, I bet you’re too stuck-up to talk to a guy like me.”
  • Loan Sharking. Giving unsolicited help and expecting favors in return.
  • The Unsolicited Promise. A promise to do (or not do) something when no such promise is asked for; this usually means that such a promise will be broken. For example: an unsolicited, “I promise I’ll leave you alone after this,” usually means you will not be left alone. Similarly, an unsolicited “I promise I won’t hurt you” usually means the person intends to hurt you.
  • Discounting the Word “No”. Refusing to accept rejection.

From:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gift_of_Fear

Some of these pre-incident indicators were definitely present in my situation. The man and woman were definitely trying to be nice and charm me. They both offered too many details as they began talking to me in order to sound legitimate. They both typecast me as a younger woman, which if they felt I was trendy with my sparkly boots may have also meant they thought I was naive and an easy target. There was a bit of the forced teaming as they both implied that I was a professional based on my appearance.

Bryan and I went back up to Target about an hour and half later when he finished up at work. We walked around just to see if those people were still lurking, but of course they weren’t there anymore. We saw a security guard walking around so we approached him to see if we could find out if anything else had happened.

The security guard was a young fellow, with no real security devices on him that we could see. He wasn’t wearing a belt to support a walkie talkie or a flash light. He was polite, told us he was aware of my phone call to the manager and that they had been keeping an eye out for the people I described. But, he also told us he was planning to check the security tapes later. So, he hadn’t even bothered to look back at the video after I called to report the incident.

What Really Happened

Is it possible that the two people who approached me at Target meant no harm? That they were just horribly ignorant self-employed people who don’t know how to ethically recruit their staff? Or is it possible that these two people were part of a larger scheme to manipulate anyone who would fall for their act? Is it also possible that the actions of this couple could’ve led to a violent outcome? Of course all of these scenarios are possible. We most likely won’t really know what their intent was and can only speculate at this point.

But, what’s important here to realize and to take away, especially for women, is that we don’t have to be politically correct, polite, courteous or worried about coming off as a bitch when your mind is trying to tell you that something is wrong and you need to pay attention to details.

When you’re walking in and out of buildings, whether public or private, always observe your surroundings. Pay attention to things that may be out of the ordinary. Stay off of your phone during these times and keep your keys in your hand. Also make sure your arms aren’t too burdened with bags or items that will inhibit you from being able to reach for your pepper spray, knife, firearm or whatever personal security device you carry.

Nothing violent happened to me that night at Target and maybe nothing violent was ever intended to happen to me. The circumstances did shake me up enough to remind me to keep my guard up and not to immediately trust that someone’s intent is harmless. Being on guard may be the one thing that keeps me out of harm’s way at some point in my life. And since it’s my life, I want to guard it well.

I hope that if anything, this article makes you think and that you’ll guard your life too.


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Happened to me too
Happened to me too

This is so crazy because as I am reading this the same thing happened to me at a Target! Except it was a young asain college student. She complimented me on my shoes and I was acting friendly and all, but she wouldn't bug off. She told me about hwr business and asked where I go to school and tried to get all personal information like even asking me for my number. I simply showed her my mace and said "If you don't back off right now, I promise I have no trouble using all of this on you."

I don't know where your situation took place, but it happened down here in texas. It may be a scam or a famous script for a kidnapping. All I have to say is all ladies need to beware!

moriyah
moriyah

Thank you Kelly. Remember, women see objects first, men see spaces. Women focus on content more, whereas men focus on context. Use that knowledge always. Perps do. With both persons you could have asked for their business cards. Probably neither had one. If that was so you could blow them off as roughly, or smoothly, as you wanted to. First rule of biz is to have a card. If they produced a card then you could interogate them, with any number of different questions, to corroborate the story of the card. You could also call the number while in their presence or later for different reasons. I am a 'sensitive' and believe you were probed. You passed the test with a small margin. If I had been within earshot or sight I would have no recourse but to take back up positiion as needed or required. May you become a teacher of women and children. It has been over 10yrs since my woman went to any store or mall. Period.

moriyah
moriyah

Thank you Kelly.

Remember, women see objects first, men see spaces. Women focus on content more, whereas men focus on context. Use that knowledge always.

Perps do.

With both persons you could have asked for their business cards. Probably neither had one. If that was so you could blow them off as roughly, or smoothly, as you wanted to. First rule of biz is to have a card.

If they produced a card then you could interogate them, with any number of different questions, to corroborate the story of the card. You could also call the number while in their presence or later for different reasons.

I am a 'sensitive' and believe you were probed. You passed the test with a small margin. If I had been within earshot or sight I would have no recourse but to take back up positiion as needed or required.

May you become a teacher of women and children.

It has been over 10yrs since my woman went to any store or mall. Period.

Canyon Cat
Canyon Cat

Especially if they tell you that you seem like a "really sharp person". HEEEEE-YAHHH!!!!

Canyon Cat
Canyon Cat

Been there. Done that. Got the motivational tape library to prove it.

During my post-divorce bachelor decade (90s) I did some bartending and I got flattered into Amway by the cute wife of my eventual sponsor. She said that I was "really good" at my job and seemed like a "sharp" person (WARNING, WILL ROBINSON! "SHARP" IS AMWAY-SPEAK). Short story long . . . I got sucked in. Trust me. It IS a cult. You are browbeaten into attending weekly meetings, buying Amway everything, buying their motivational materials, signing up for their voicemail where you get pestered daily with reminders, long-winded motivational speeches, and top distributors bragging about how "blessed" they are to be living in a million dollar home in blah, blah, blah.

It took me months to finally extricate myself from that bunch. I am FREE!!!!

Part of their recruiting antics is to draw up a list of places with people who probably hate their jobs and are looking for anything different: car dealerships, restaurants, malls, etc.

You are lucky you didn't buy the flattery and charm schtick. It usually ends in a lighter wallet, damaged relationships, and pissed off relatives.

Lesson: not everyone is out to assualt you. Sometimes they just want your money, time, and slavish obedience!

Barbara
Barbara

Thank you SO MUCH for this! Got a link to it from a friend on facebook.

Jemma
Jemma

When I was at college one time I was in a dark room developing some photos. Then the only other person in the room, a guy asked me to help him develop some photos in the black room which is a room where every bit of light is blacked out and the door can be locked so no one can come in and let light in. I agreed we went inside. After he had locked the door he explained what to do, I noticed he had a torch on which I thought was strange. Then realised that he had said he would keep the torch on. That’s when I realised that something wasn’t right and immediately got out of there. I don’t know what could have happened or even whether he was going to do anything but I went with my instinct. That’s why I think this is such a good article for people to read – it tells you to trust your gut when you think there’s something not right.

JD
JD

The second approach, after what you'd already seen in the parking lot, would have been enough motivation to prompt me to get security or the police involved. Unless you're a martial artist or have some sort of self defense training, there's no way to anticipate or be prepared for how quickly things could develop in the distance between the front door of the store and your car.

BTW, it's a good idea to unlock only the driver door and avoid using the unlock-ALL-doors feature on your fob when approaching your car. On some cars, like the Toyota, it is the default, but can to be disabled ahead of time.

JD
JD

The second approach, after what you'd already seen in the parking lot, would have been enough motivation to prompt me to get security or the police involved. Unless you're a martial artist or have some sort of self defense training, there's no way to anticipate or be prepared for how quickly things could develop in the distance between the front door of the store and your car. BTW, it's a good idea to unlock only the driver door and avoid using the unlock-ALL-doors feature on your fob when approaching your car. On some cars, like the Toyota, it is the default, but can to be disabled ahead of time.

Johnathan
Johnathan

One of my full-time jobs is at Target. As such, I would double up on what Damian said about letting someone know immediately. We don't tolerate any sort of solicitation at any time on our property, and take the safety of our guests very seriously, but time is of the essence. You don't even have to find AP or a Manager. Find your closest team member (listen for the walkie chatter!), and they will gladly call Assets Protection or the Leader On Duty (LOD) to handle the situation.

S.M. Ingersoll
S.M. Ingersoll

This ties so beautifully into the subject of situational awareness. Had you not been paying attention to your surroundings and listened to your instincts it could have had a very different outcome. You just never know when you will face a threat, and what kind of threat that may be. These folks may have been well intentioned Amway "business owners" but their methods certainly lack in tact and appropriateness. Keep your head on a swivel and be the master of your surroundings, you'll never go wrong.

Semper Paratus
Semper Paratus

Good post. I think there are two types of people: (1) People who are awake and understand the concept of Situational Awareness, and (2) Future victims. Those who survive are those who notice the little details. Once my wife and I were stopped for gas. After I filled up and paid I got back in the car and we started talking about something, I don't remember what, but it was the kind of thing where I didn't start the car and immediately drive off (you married guys know what I mean, sometimes you stop everything and just talk to your wife). Anyway, as we were talking a guy walked in front of our car. We both stopped talking and just watched the guy as he walked into the station. Without saying another word I started the engine and drove off and we picked up our conversation. Neither of us said anything about the guy we saw to the other until later, while we were eating, my wife said to me, verbatim, "Did you notice that guy?" Now, this is like three hours later and kind of an out of the blue comment, but I knew right away what she meant - she was talking about the guy at the station. I told her I did notice him and that the hair on the back of my neck went up right away when I saw him. She said felt exactly the same and we talked about why we would have felt this way. He was just an ordinary looking guy - he didn't necessarily look menacing or anything. In fact, he had such an ordinary plain look that 99% of the time he would just become part of the background that you wouldn't even notice. There was absolutely nothing about him that would have outwardly spoken danger, but there was just something about him that didn't feel right. Neither of us could figure it out - why had our hackles gone up over this ordinary guy. Then, later when we got home, we watched the local news. The gas station we had been at had been robbed and the clerk and another person in the store had been shot and killed. They showed the store video and we saw that this ordinary person who walked in front of our car moments later committed a double murder. Trust your instincts. Fear is healthy.

Christopher Doner
Christopher Doner

From the beginning of your article I was thinking "Amway". After reading comments from others here I can see I wasn't the only one who thought that. My wife's father is an Amway leader here in Nebraska. I have seen how they approach people and know that their methods leave something to be desired, especially if you are someone who takes personal security seriously, as we here all do. That said, I also know that the folks in my father-in-law's business are very kind, genuine people just trying to make a living and be successful. Sometimes they can be a bit naive when it comes to their approach especially if they have no understandig of persoanl security, boundary setting and other skills that folks like us take seriously.

John Nielsen
John Nielsen

Great write-up Kelly! Going to pass it on to my wife to read.

Remix Mpls
Remix Mpls

Same deal last spring, Middle aged guy, at the Ridgedale Target in MN - Said I looked "active" and asked me some career questions then asked if I was interested in a job opportunity.

Definitely Amway or something like it. Or maybe a few of us have a certain magnetism that makes small business owners give us rewarding, high-paying jobs while we shop....

Miguel
Miguel

Thanks for the article Kelly,

As a protective security trainer and self-defense firearms trainer I am always telling my female students (and some of my male students too) that if you feel threatened, you are not required to be polite or nice and that every now and again saying "P*ss off and leave me alone" is not impolite but required communication.

As a society, we seem to feel pressured into being nice simply because someone is trying to be nice to us but all too often, people forget that predatory criminals are very adept at reading body language (for them it is a survival strategy) and that they know that being nice is often the only way that they can get close enough to a victim in order to wreak their brand of harm upon them.

I am sincerely glad that nothing serious came of this event and that you had your wits about you enough to notice that things weren't right. Keep up the good work and stay safe.

Miguel
Miguel

Thanks for the article Kelly, As a protective security trainer and self-defense firearms trainer I am always telling my female students (and some of my male students too) that if you feel threatened, you are not required to be polite or nice and that every now and again saying "P*ss off and leave me alone" is not impolite but required communication. As a society, we seem to feel pressured into being nice simply because someone is trying to be nice to us but all too often, people forget that predatory criminals are very adept at reading body language (for them it is a survival strategy) and that they know that being nice is often the only way that they can get close enough to a victim in order to wreak their brand of harm upon them. I am sincerely glad that nothing serious came of this event and that you had your wits about you enough to notice that things weren't right. Keep up the good work and stay safe.

thebronze
thebronze

Great write-up Kelly. I'm sending it to my Mom!

Lee Isa
Lee Isa

"we don’t have to be... worried about coming off as a bitch"

best advice. I've (as well as my friends) been a victim of other's manipulation because I (they) didn't want to be viewed as a "bitch". It's OK to be a "bitch"!!! :D

Lee Isa
Lee Isa

"we don’t have to be... worried about coming off as a bitch" best advice. I've (as well as my friends) been a victim of other's manipulation because I (they) didn't want to be viewed as a "bitch". It's OK to be a "bitch"!!! :D

Megan
Megan

InterestingI just read this story, because something similar happened to me today. I needed some crackers for the Super Bowl party I was going to, and just stopped at the closest Walmart. Which happens to probably be one of the few nicer ones in the country, and I've never felt uneasy going there when I've had to.

Anyway - as I pulled in to the parking lot, I noticed a man standing in the middle of the lane talking to a group of women carrying children. One woman eventually reached over and gave him money. He saw me (I was being forced to wait while he got out of the road) and I immediately knew this wasn't a good situation. So I parked my car two rows over, keeping an eye out. I saw him approach two more women as I watched from my car. Living where I do, there are more SUVs than not, so he quickly disappeared amongst the cars. As I got out of my car, I kept my keychain monkey fist in my palm. (When I purchased it last month, I realized it's actually very useful...wielding keys is even easier with a steel ball attached). I kept my eyes open without visibly turning my head to look for the guy, and sure enough, he appeared from behind an SUV, just at the edge of my vision. He immediately tried to get my attention. And because I was already aware he was there, and I had made a point to not look for or at him, I ignored his calls. He kept at it, and tried following me, but stopped before reaching the first few rows of cars nearest the building. He didn't want to be caught. I immediately told the greeter there was a man approaching women in the parking lot, and by the time I came out, he was no where to be seen. Obviously that bothered me too...he knew what I was driving and I had just completely ignored him. Luckily, I'm particular about my parking. I avoid parking near SUVs because I'm in a sports car and don't like having my vehicle swallowed up in the sea of monsters I can't see around. So I could tell he wasn't near my car. Nothing happened, luckily. And I'm sure he was just panhandling... But the point is, you just can't trust parking lot vultures, and even though he looked harmless, sounded harmless, and even took the cart from the ladies to put away - I wasn't having any of it. And it amazed me that the people he approached had no idea he was in the parking lot at all.

Awareness. So simple, so undervalued.

Megan
Megan

InterestingI just read this story, because something similar happened to me today. I needed some crackers for the Super Bowl party I was going to, and just stopped at the closest Walmart. Which happens to probably be one of the few nicer ones in the country, and I've never felt uneasy going there when I've had to. Anyway - as I pulled in to the parking lot, I noticed a man standing in the middle of the lane talking to a group of women carrying children. One woman eventually reached over and gave him money. He saw me (I was being forced to wait while he got out of the road) and I immediately knew this wasn't a good situation. So I parked my car two rows over, keeping an eye out. I saw him approach two more women as I watched from my car. Living where I do, there are more SUVs than not, so he quickly disappeared amongst the cars. As I got out of my car, I kept my keychain monkey fist in my palm. (When I purchased it last month, I realized it's actually very useful...wielding keys is even easier with a steel ball attached). I kept my eyes open without visibly turning my head to look for the guy, and sure enough, he appeared from behind an SUV, just at the edge of my vision. He immediately tried to get my attention. And because I was already aware he was there, and I had made a point to not look for or at him, I ignored his calls. He kept at it, and tried following me, but stopped before reaching the first few rows of cars nearest the building. He didn't want to be caught. I immediately told the greeter there was a man approaching women in the parking lot, and by the time I came out, he was no where to be seen. Obviously that bothered me too...he knew what I was driving and I had just completely ignored him. Luckily, I'm particular about my parking. I avoid parking near SUVs because I'm in a sports car and don't like having my vehicle swallowed up in the sea of monsters I can't see around. So I could tell he wasn't near my car. Nothing happened, luckily. And I'm sure he was just panhandling... But the point is, you just can't trust parking lot vultures, and even though he looked harmless, sounded harmless, and even took the cart from the ladies to put away - I wasn't having any of it. And it amazed me that the people he approached had no idea he was in the parking lot at all. Awareness. So simple, so undervalued.

David
David

Better a live "nutcase" than a dead victim... good insight.

Jeremy Jackson
Jeremy Jackson

Nice article Ms. Black. I get that bad feeling in my stomach a lot here in California (Lancaster). All of the time the family and I are loaded up into our benign looking 2003 Envoy, and park at Walmart and before I can get my door even open there are people there asking for cash. Luckily I somewhat have the upper hand of having the door/glass between us (being able to relock it), unless they pull a gun of course.

I have recently begun the very arduous and expensive task of getting a CCW in this communist state...piece of mind is knowing it is there, if I do in fact need it, and have the proper chance and time to deploy it...

Jeremy Jackson
Jeremy Jackson

Nice article Ms. Black. I get that bad feeling in my stomach a lot here in California (Lancaster). All of the time the family and I are loaded up into our benign looking 2003 Envoy, and park at Walmart and before I can get my door even open there are people there asking for cash. Luckily I somewhat have the upper hand of having the door/glass between us (being able to relock it), unless they pull a gun of course. I have recently begun the very arduous and expensive task of getting a CCW in this communist state...piece of mind is knowing it is there, if I do in fact need it, and have the proper chance and time to deploy it...

Red
Red

It's better to be aware and "impolite" (who cares?) than hurt or worse. What women should take from this is that it's not always the stereotypical "bad guys" that you should be on the alert for, but anyone acting oddly enough to make your instincts kick in and have you pay attention. Also there is nothing wrong with staying inside the store and contacting management/security if you really feel there could be a threat waiting for you in the parking lot. I need to see if Doc has this book already so I can read more. Great article Kelly, thanks!

chet
chet

I am glad it turned out well.

Do you select where you park? I try to pick a spot next to cart coral,I like to have it on the drivers side,but I can use it to my advantage if the only option is the passenger side. Having the coral at my back as I load the car,cuts down areas of approach by panhandlers or other more dangerous parking lot predators. I also scan as I load the car and as I get the next bag from the cart.I use the cart as an obstacle as well,when I am pushing it through the lot and as I am loading my car.I would rather have my hands free, not occupied holding bags.

I have a four door,I open both doors on my side as I load stuff in through the rear door.Anyone approaching will have to front door and the cart to deal with before they can close the distance,this just buys a second or two,but you know the game is on if someone moves the door or the cart.

I see people on the phone all the time when shopping,could you have casually taken a picture of them?Could you have talked to the store manager before leaving?Called Brian before leaving the store?

I assume you scanned before you left the store and as you walked to your car.If a van was parked next to your car when you returned that would be a red flag to a kidnapping.

A hammerless snub nose revolver fits nicely in a coat pocket,nothing wrong with having your hand on it as you push your cart out to the car.I always do a scan as I get to the car,look to my right,then pivot to my left scanning behind then push the cart into a blocking position as I open the doors to load.

I spent a long time working in my states bad guy warehouse,always trust your gut. If more of the women that ended up dead,or "just raped" had been a little more "paranoid" in their threat assessment they might be better off today

chet
chet

I am glad it turned out well. Do you select where you park? I try to pick a spot next to cart coral,I like to have it on the drivers side,but I can use it to my advantage if the only option is the passenger side. Having the coral at my back as I load the car,cuts down areas of approach by panhandlers or other more dangerous parking lot predators. I also scan as I load the car and as I get the next bag from the cart.I use the cart as an obstacle as well,when I am pushing it through the lot and as I am loading my car.I would rather have my hands free, not occupied holding bags. I have a four door,I open both doors on my side as I load stuff in through the rear door.Anyone approaching will have to front door and the cart to deal with before they can close the distance,this just buys a second or two,but you know the game is on if someone moves the door or the cart. I see people on the phone all the time when shopping,could you have casually taken a picture of them?Could you have talked to the store manager before leaving?Called Brian before leaving the store? I assume you scanned before you left the store and as you walked to your car.If a van was parked next to your car when you returned that would be a red flag to a kidnapping. A hammerless snub nose revolver fits nicely in a coat pocket,nothing wrong with having your hand on it as you push your cart out to the car.I always do a scan as I get to the car,look to my right,then pivot to my left scanning behind then push the cart into a blocking position as I open the doors to load. I spent a long time working in my states bad guy warehouse,always trust your gut. If more of the women that ended up dead,or "just raped" had been a little more "paranoid" in their threat assessment they might be better off today

Grover6
Grover6

Thank you Kelly for writing this. I have read the article and the comments, and it disturbs me that people are suggesting that Kelly is paranoid or fearful. Reread the article. Not only is she not paranoid, her "fear" only manifests after her gut tells her something is off. Those suggesting she is paranoid have obviously not read Debecker's book. I like Patrick Swayze's "be nice, till it's time not to be nice" rule, from the movie Roadhouse. Kelly was polite and respectful until her gut told her it was time not to be. Don't assume you know whatshould of happened.

Kelly, keep it up and stay safe.

Grover6
Grover6

Thank you Kelly for writing this. I have read the article and the comments, and it disturbs me that people are suggesting that Kelly is paranoid or fearful. Reread the article. Not only is she not paranoid, her "fear" only manifests after her gut tells her something is off. Those suggesting she is paranoid have obviously not read Debecker's book. I like Patrick Swayze's "be nice, till it's time not to be nice" rule, from the movie Roadhouse. Kelly was polite and respectful until her gut told her it was time not to be. Don't assume you know whatshould of happened. Kelly, keep it up and stay safe.

chet
chet

I am glad it turned out well.

Do you select where you park? I try to pick a spot next to cart coral,I like to have it on the drivers side,but I can use it to my advantage if the only option is the passenger side. Having the coral at my back as I load the car,cuts down areas of approach by panhandlers or other more dangerous parking lot predators. I also scan as I load the car and as I get the next bag from the cart.I use the cart as an obstacle as well,when I am pushing it through the lot and as I am loading my car.I would rather have my hands free, not occupied holding bags.I have a four door,I open both doors on my side as I load stuff in through the rear door.Anyone approaching will have to front door and the cart to deal with before they can close the distance,this just buys a second or two,but you know the game is on if someone moves the door or the cart.

I see people on the phone all the time when shopping,could you have casually taken a picture of them?Could you have talked to the store manager before leaving?Called Brian before leaving the store?

I assume you scanned before you left the store and as you walked to your car.If a van was parked next to your car when you returned that would be a red flag to a kidnapping.

A hammerless revolver fits nicely in a coat pocket,nothing wrong with having your hand on it as you push your cart out to the car.I always do a scan as I get to the car,look to my right,then pivot to my left scanning behind then push the cart into a blocking position as I open the doors to load.

I spent a long time working in my states bad guy warehouse,always trust your gut,ignore those that want to call you paranoid. If more of the women that ended up dead,or just raped had been a little more "paranoid" in their threat assessment they might be better off today

chet
chet

I am glad it turned out well. Do you select where you park? I try to pick a spot next to cart coral,I like to have it on the drivers side,but I can use it to my advantage if the only option is the passenger side. Having the coral at my back as I load the car,cuts down areas of approach by panhandlers or other more dangerous parking lot predators. I also scan as I load the car and as I get the next bag from the cart.I use the cart as an obstacle as well,when I am pushing it through the lot and as I am loading my car.I would rather have my hands free, not occupied holding bags.I have a four door,I open both doors on my side as I load stuff in through the rear door.Anyone approaching will have to front door and the cart to deal with before they can close the distance,this just buys a second or two,but you know the game is on if someone moves the door or the cart. I see people on the phone all the time when shopping,could you have casually taken a picture of them?Could you have talked to the store manager before leaving?Called Brian before leaving the store? I assume you scanned before you left the store and as you walked to your car.If a van was parked next to your car when you returned that would be a red flag to a kidnapping. A hammerless revolver fits nicely in a coat pocket,nothing wrong with having your hand on it as you push your cart out to the car.I always do a scan as I get to the car,look to my right,then pivot to my left scanning behind then push the cart into a blocking position as I open the doors to load. I spent a long time working in my states bad guy warehouse,always trust your gut,ignore those that want to call you paranoid. If more of the women that ended up dead,or just raped had been a little more "paranoid" in their threat assessment they might be better off today

Josh
Josh

Thanks for sharing the story!

But if I may add...

Yoda says it best...

'Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering...'

Do not let fear/paranoia cloud your decision making processes. SA is a key foundation and all, but another lesson that can be taken here is the ability to be able to switch it on and off PRN. If not, we risk alienating ourselves from others. And become our own worst enemies.

Josh
Josh

Thanks for sharing the story! But if I may add... Yoda says it best... 'Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering...' Do not let fear/paranoia cloud your decision making processes. SA is a key foundation and all, but another lesson that can be taken here is the ability to be able to switch it on and off PRN. If not, we risk alienating ourselves from others. And become our own worst enemies.

saffron
saffron

Good article - thanks for sharing. As other posters have said, politeness should go out the window if y0u are feeling unsafe. That goes equally for males and females (although stereotypically, it is harder for us girls to 'break conditioning'). I have taught my son to break all the rules if he or someone he is with is in danger/threatened. He is a polite and law-abiding teenager, but he knows that in order to attract attention to the situation (in some cases, that has to be non-verbal), it is OK to smash something or steal something (grab a kid's toy and mum sure will attract a lot of attention!)

One query though: stay off the phone? I realise that it is to avoid distractions, but I was always taught to phone home (or even pretend to) and say something like "Yeah, hi Dad, I'm just at [location] and I'll meet you in a couple of minutes..." if you are out in the open and feel threatened by some random. The idea being that the random will think twice about targeting you as you will be missed very quickly and Dad knows just where to look .

saffron
saffron

Good article - thanks for sharing. As other posters have said, politeness should go out the window if y0u are feeling unsafe. That goes equally for males and females (although stereotypically, it is harder for us girls to 'break conditioning'). I have taught my son to break all the rules if he or someone he is with is in danger/threatened. He is a polite and law-abiding teenager, but he knows that in order to attract attention to the situation (in some cases, that has to be non-verbal), it is OK to smash something or steal something (grab a kid's toy and mum sure will attract a lot of attention!) One query though: stay off the phone? I realise that it is to avoid distractions, but I was always taught to phone home (or even pretend to) and say something like "Yeah, hi Dad, I'm just at [location] and I'll meet you in a couple of minutes..." if you are out in the open and feel threatened by some random. The idea being that the random will think twice about targeting you as you will be missed very quickly and Dad knows just where to look .

Gene
Gene

Great article..passing it along!

Brannon LeBouef
Brannon LeBouef

Great article Kelly. I read it via the email notice, which BTW, does not include a by-line. Everything screamed Bryan until the sequenced boots... but then I realized how well I knew Bryan and thought. ughhhh maybe?

LOL. Apparently I fell for it like so many.

Seriously though, great article and great observations. I have read the Gift of Fear as well, and I noticed the pre-incident behaviors.

What would you have done had you noticed one or both of them following you to your car?

Brannon LeBouef
Brannon LeBouef

Great article Kelly. I read it via the email notice, which BTW, does not include a by-line. Everything screamed Bryan until the sequenced boots... but then I realized how well I knew Bryan and thought. ughhhh maybe? LOL. Apparently I fell for it like so many. Seriously though, great article and great observations. I have read the Gift of Fear as well, and I noticed the pre-incident behaviors. What would you have done had you noticed one or both of them following you to your car?

Ken
Ken

Kelly,

I'm a casual reader and in the past have missed the mark of what you look like. After reading the article and Kevin mentioning your size I was confused. I thought you were taller. After looking back through articles I realized what I thought was a hired model was you and the tall woman with lighter brown in the picture with Brian was someone else--you had your arm around a tall fellow in hat picture. So much for being a trained observer, right?

Anyway, I don't think your stature is as much of a factor than the rest of your appearance. I've meet some very strong, assertive, no nonsense ladies in my time. Ladies with just a look made you know where you stand.

I think it's more about how you fit in a mold that we identify as "the pretty ditz." Tall or short doesn't matter. Yes, it's wrong, but fact. People like Teri Garr and Lisa Kudrow play ditsy characters. Your mannerisms in the videos seems open, warm, and friendly.

While I wasn't there, from what you've said it seems like you might have been approached because you seem like an open, warm, honest, caring person, who might be easily manipulated. It sounds more like a scam in the making--more of a danger to your pocket book than your physical person. No less need for vigilance, though.

Good article. Another fine example of why I read ITS.

Gordy
Gordy

Thanks for this article Kelly. I had a similar incident in an amusement park where a pretty young blonde came up to me and started complimenting me out of the blue. My wife was in the restroom and our two toddlers were playing in a park area in front of me. As she talked she kept trying to draw my attention to her and moving to the side to try to draw my attention away from my kids. After she realized I wasn't going to turn away from the kids she insulted me loudly and when she went to walk away she 'fell' and cried out. I had already called the kids over to me and once they were within arms reach did a scan of the area and saw two men who, once they saw me scanning around, turned their backs abruptly and started walking quickly away. When I scanned back to see the 'fallen blonde' she too was gone. Once my wife rejoined us I shared the story with her and we went immediately to security. Not sure if this was prep for a theft / pickpocket or if the kids were a target and didn't want to find out.

Some friends have said that it was probably just a flirty blonde and I should have been flattered. I prefer to keep myself and my kids kids safe instead of being flattered.

Thanks for the book mention too. I'll be grabbing a copy.

Gordy
Gordy

Thanks for this article Kelly. I had a similar incident in an amusement park where a pretty young blonde came up to me and started complimenting me out of the blue. My wife was in the restroom and our two toddlers were playing in a park area in front of me. As she talked she kept trying to draw my attention to her and moving to the side to try to draw my attention away from my kids. After she realized I wasn't going to turn away from the kids she insulted me loudly and when she went to walk away she 'fell' and cried out. I had already called the kids over to me and once they were within arms reach did a scan of the area and saw two men who, once they saw me scanning around, turned their backs abruptly and started walking quickly away. When I scanned back to see the 'fallen blonde' she too was gone. Once my wife rejoined us I shared the story with her and we went immediately to security. Not sure if this was prep for a theft / pickpocket or if the kids were a target and didn't want to find out. Some friends have said that it was probably just a flirty blonde and I should have been flattered. I prefer to keep myself and my kids kids safe instead of being flattered. Thanks for the book mention too. I'll be grabbing a copy.

steve
steve

its a shame,,that we have to be on our guards ,,in America,,when you see so much turmoil around the world,by comparison,,we are fortunate,,,for now. I was being agentleman one day at the super mkt,,a older lady got in line behind me,,as she had only two items,I felt compelled to offer her a place ahead of me,she refused and had alook of fear but control,,I again asked her to please take a position in front of me,,and made sure,,it wasn't putting me out at all to wait alittle longer,,she than accepted,,however what surprised me the most,,when she had finalized her purchase,,she thanked me,,but held her hand up in a stay back motion,,I felt sorry for her at that point,,ive wondered sinse if she had had an unpleasant event in her life,,with an altercation of some sort,,,ill never be persistent again in a chivalry intent

decepticon
decepticon

As a female is it so hard to go against a lifetime of training to be nice and polite and smile at everyone. So please don't handicap your daughters by teaching them to act that way. If my "spider sense" goes off due to anyone around me or my child, all that politeness crap goes out the window and the mother bear makes her appearance.

No offense to Mike Dobbs, but I wonder if he has much experience with being female in America. We have to deal with ill intent wrapped in a thin coat of niceness all the time. From what I've studied, terrrorists are more interested in the grand gesture rather than the small, personal one.

Regardless of who the threat comes from, terrorists or Amway or anyone in between, my personal bubble, which includes everything in that bubble - physical, auditory, visual, or any other sense, is not a place for you to conduct your business, whatever it may be. Given the public setting and low level status of the interaction (verbal only, at that point), I would have accepted the first compliment, but when the second one was offered with comment about my appearance, I would have said, "You'll have to excuse me. I am in a hurry." and left the area. Any further contact would have been taken as an offensive move and would be met with a stronger defense than was probably expected.

Regarding the guy in the check out line, I probably would have said, "I've already heard that line once in this store tonight, and I didn't fall for it then either." And then insisted the cashier call a manager over to the line. Better to press the issue in a well lit place with plenty of witnesses.

BTW, my daughter has participated in competitive archery, rifle, pistol, and shotgun since she was 8 and is also working toward a black belt in kajukenpo. And we are teaching her that NO ONE has the right to enter her spersonal space without her invitation.

decepticon
decepticon

As a female is it so hard to go against a lifetime of training to be nice and polite and smile at everyone. So please don't handicap your daughters by teaching them to act that way. If my "spider sense" goes off due to anyone around me or my child, all that politeness crap goes out the window and the mother bear makes her appearance. No offense to Mike Dobbs, but I wonder if he has much experience with being female in America. We have to deal with ill intent wrapped in a thin coat of niceness all the time. From what I've studied, terrrorists are more interested in the grand gesture rather than the small, personal one. Regardless of who the threat comes from, terrorists or Amway or anyone in between, my personal bubble, which includes everything in that bubble - physical, auditory, visual, or any other sense, is not a place for you to conduct your business, whatever it may be. Given the public setting and low level status of the interaction (verbal only, at that point), I would have accepted the first compliment, but when the second one was offered with comment about my appearance, I would have said, "You'll have to excuse me. I am in a hurry." and left the area. Any further contact would have been taken as an offensive move and would be met with a stronger defense than was probably expected. Regarding the guy in the check out line, I probably would have said, "I've already heard that line once in this store tonight, and I didn't fall for it then either." And then insisted the cashier call a manager over to the line. Better to press the issue in a well lit place with plenty of witnesses. BTW, my daughter has participated in competitive archery, rifle, pistol, and shotgun since she was 8 and is also working toward a black belt in kajukenpo. And we are teaching her that NO ONE has the right to enter her spersonal space without her invitation.

Michael
Michael

Kelly, Great article! I like several other people thought Brian was wearing uggs at first! I was out with my little girl last weekend and I was approached twice with the same exact lines. The first guy that approached did not understand personal space but quickly pulled back once he realized that I was open carrying, he quickly left the area. I promise I was not trying to scare him off in that way!

The second person that approached me. I gave the him a throw away email account and when I received an email from him I was able to determine that it was in fact amway that is using this canned approach.

I did notice also that several pre-incident indicators were going off in my head during both exchanges. I talked to my daughter about how she felt and she was able to identify several of the indicators also. She just finished reading your article and wanted to tell you that girls like you and her rock.

Michael
Michael

Kelly, Great article! I like several other people thought Brian was wearing uggs at first! I was out with my little girl last weekend and I was approached twice with the same exact lines. The first guy that approached did not understand personal space but quickly pulled back once he realized that I was open carrying, he quickly left the area. I promise I was not trying to scare him off in that way! The second person that approached me. I gave the him a throw away email account and when I received an email from him I was able to determine that it was in fact amway that is using this canned approach. I did notice also that several pre-incident indicators were going off in my head during both exchanges. I talked to my daughter about how she felt and she was able to identify several of the indicators also. She just finished reading your article and wanted to tell you that girls like you and her rock.

ModernSurvival
ModernSurvival

Kelly you and Bryan have to get up to our new homestead we have missed you guys so much.

Anyway great write up and your response and concepts are one hundred percent dead on. It is always best to assume people that don’t understand no are engaging in basically an assault, when I ask you to leave me alone and you don’t you are assaulting me, yes I mean that one hundred percent.

That said I can tell you I would lay 100 to 1 odds this was an “Amway ambush” it may not have been Amway per se but this is so spot on for typical MLM crap. There are literally dozens of books and thousands of “leaders” teaching Amway drones to do this exact thing.

Your view that they don’t know how to recruit talent is spot on but misses the point that this is what these people are trained to do. Likely the goal was to get you selling vitamins, skin care products or some other overpriced crap with the dream of becoming a millionaire and buying an island.

Good thing for these idiots they didn’t tail you to your car. I had that happen once a long time ago and gave a guy a right cross when he wouldn’t just go away. One of these fools could have ended up with a 9mm hole if they had done that to you. These morons are so “motivated” by their Kool-Aid meetings they have no idea how uncomfortable they make people feel.

Aaron
Aaron

Every couple months or so a person working for Primerica will stop in (or call) the gas station I work at and try to recruit people. It usually starts off with a compliment on the person's professionalism and goes from there. I only mention it because none of my friends outside of Minnesota have ever been approached in this manner.

ModernSurvival
ModernSurvival

Follow up read the spiel by the guy a bit better this time, yea MLM. Not skin care or miracle supplements but INSURANCE. I would bet a case of Johnny Walker Black or several bottles of Johnny Blue that this clown worked for drum role please Primerica. Google it, LOL, man I am dead sure on this.

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